Tina Maze on top again in Lenzerheide DH training

15 March 2011 15:59

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland – Although the downhill course in Lenzerheide was considerably softer and slower than it was for the first World Cup ladies training, Tina Maze once again put down the fastest time on Tuesday, finishing in 1 minute, 28.20 seconds.

It felt like spring when the ladies took to the course immediately following the men’s training Tuesday, and the snow was softening quickly as the heat of the day increased.

“It’s a little bit soft on the top also a little bit windy, but I hope it will stay good for tomorrow,” said Maze, whose only podium in downhill this season was the second place a couple weeks ago in Are. “It will be hard because it’s very warm. But it’s only 23 racers, so I think it will go OK. It’s a little difficult to feel your outside ski because it’s soft and you lose some balance. But I think I can ski it well.”

Julia Mancuso also had another solid training run, second fastest on Tuesday, 0.30 seconds behind Maze. She said the steep, technical hill suits her and she knows where she can look for more speed in Wednesday’s race.

“It’s a good hill for me,” Mancuso said. “It’s not the highest speed race, but we have downhills like this a lot. It’s a good pitch. It’s definitely short and not a lot of high speeds, but it’s not a problem turning the skis. There’s always places you can look for speed. It’s hard now because it’s changing every day. I was definitely a little intimidated from yesterday, it was hard snow and bumpy and I had an incident where I almost lost my ski. Today I was a little nervous, then just skiing it, it’s softer and I think it’s even going to be easier tomorrow.”

Daniela Merighetti, who was third fastest on Tuesday, 0.40 seconds back, did a ski change from the first to the second training and said she’s prepared with the right line and the right setup for race day.

“It’s warm, but tomorrow it will be the same, I think. Tomorrow I hope it will be sunny so we can see something on the run. I changed the ski and I tried something different in the line so I feel ready,” the Italian said.

Every other racer was more than a second slower than Maze on Tuesday, and the course got mixed reviews.

Junior World Downhill Champion Lotte Smiseth Sejersted, who was fourth and 1.08 seconds back, is a fan of the short, steep course, saying she prefers to keep racing technical.

“Something happens all the time, it’s not so many flats, so it fits me good,” she said. “It’s fun. It’s pretty straight down the pitch and you catch a lot of speed, then it’s turny so you just got to stay ahead of it.”

Lindsey Vonn, who nearly crashed in Monday’s training, said she played it safe on Tuesday and finished seventh, 1.37 seconds out.

“Yesterday on the pitch, I hit a bump funny and it caused my ski to bounce and I threw it sideways and stopped and kept going. I tried to keep it going in the bottom, then I caught my edge in the bumps and did the splits, it actually tweaked my knee pretty bad. But I had a better run today,” Vonn said. “It was pretty conservative still, where I made the mistakes yesterday, but all in all, it was a solid training run and I’m happy I got one good one until the finish.”

World Cup overall leader Maria Riesch was 11th in training on Tuesday, 1.98 seconds back, and pointed out that while the course is totally the opposite of others she’s skied on the World Cup, it’s important to have the skills for all types of terrain, although she preferred the Lenzerheide course on Monday when it was harder and faster.

“Yesterday it was even more challenging because it was really hard snow with some bumps. I actually like that better. Today it was easier, I skied the same – a little bit too careful for the soft snow, so I know it for tomorrow now,” Riesch said. “I hope it will not be so soft. It’s really steep and turny the whole way down. It’s not very long but everyone’s really tired in the finish because you have to fight the whole way. I think it’s not the perfect terrain for downhill, but it’s the same for everybody. Tarvisio was really flat and easy, this is really steep and difficult. So we have one extreme and the other extreme and I think it’s fine.”

Every race is going to count for Riesch this week, since she only leads Vonn by 23 points in the overall. She said she is feeling more relaxed now, however, then she was last weekend in Spindleruv Mlyn, when she was expecting to gain points on Vonn but then lost some.

“Last week I knew if I just do my performance like I can do, then I can make up a lot of points, but then everything went against me and I was going twice and then Lindsey had a really good GS and also a good slalom,” Riesch said. “Then I saw OK, it can be so fast from 96 [point lead in the overall] to 23. It’s not easy to keep cool always talking about it, but I try and just concentrate on my skiing and not calculate too much with the points. I’ll just give my best and of course, it’s a big goal for me to win the big globe, but my life is not addicted [to] this. It would be a great dream coming true, but if not this year maybe next year or the year after.”

Vonn, who is for the first time in the last four years striving from behind to defend her World Cup overall title, said she is still feeling relaxed about that battle.

“I feel good,” Vonn said. “I know what I have to do if I want to win the title. I have to ski with aggression, intensity and focus and this is crunch time, this is where every race counts. I’ll just go out and ski my race and the cards will fall where they may.”

Racing begins at 9:30 Wednesday in Lenzerheide with the men’s downhill and the ladies follow at 11:30.

Click here for full results of the second ladies training.

by Shauna Farnell/farnell@fisski.com